Somewhere in the malaise of post-rock and folk music lies Völur which accepts influences all the way from King Crimson to Warren Ellis. Yet, somehow, the band remains squarely within the realm of folk metal. Perhaps their influences are so diverse because of their Canadian heritage. Located on the continent of North America the band derives much of it’s quieter side from Americana while their heavier side tends to draw from the United Kingdom area. Regardless, Disir is a serious journey. An album abounding with peaks, valleys and rolling plains.
Originally released as a very limited run cassette back in 2014, the latter half of Disir, the band’s debut LP, features two mournful, sorrow-filled tracks featuring the remarkably touch-filled playing of Laura Bates. Providing a solid backbone for that playing is the acoustic bass playing of Lucas Gadke (also of Blood Ceremony). These tracks are far from anything metal. But rather than sandwich the folk within the metal in a disjointed, somewhat oppressive manner, the band has chosen to alternate styles. And it works very well.
Drawing from the pagan-centric Norse folklore to derive their name, Völur certainly take inspiration from the woods. Even on their heavier tracks, nature is woven throughout. Take, for example, “The Deep-Minded,” in which Völur creates an ever-so-slow buildup. As the drums slowly progress, and the violin moves into the center stage, the atmosphere created is one of epic rolling hills. Add the vocal, choir-like affectations and the feel of the song slowly crescendos as if climbing the hills. But as the song peaks the bottom falls out and the true simple, minimalist beauty slowly seeps in. It’s heavy in its simplicity. In its minimalism and its use of negative space. There’s an overarching aura and atmosphere here that are only enhanced by repeating and dissonant lines.
The heaviest track, at least in speed and clamor, is the opener “Es wächst aus seinem Grab.” Among the shorter of the four tracks, the opener features a 60s style drum beat that follows the building of the guitars into what is most noticeably the most metal track. There are even harshly screamed vocals as the track rolls past the two-and-a-half minute mark. But, much like many of their compositions, the complexity and heaviness are merely an illusion waiting for the rug to be torn out.
Völur create entirely entrancing music. Norse leaning, globally influenced and completely unique. It’s an album you can enjoy lying down or driving through the hills. But, even if you are merely sitting in a basement, Völur will create the audio illusion that you are on some sort of beautiful journey in a land where you walk alone.
Quick Note: If you are fortunate enough to be anywhere near Balve, Germany in late July, Volur will be playing Prophecy Fest along with a heck of a lineup.